Black Hill Partnership Blog


In the fall of 2015, Barnesville embarked on a school-wide partnership with Black Hill Regional Park to enhance outdoor and environmental education across the School’s curriculum. This blog chronicles related programs and activities.


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Preschool Nature Observations


Black Hill naturalists spent time with Barnesville Preschoolers (EC3 and PreK classes) to work on nature observation skills.

Ms. Tina visited Barnesville’s campus where she led the kids on a scavenger hunt looking for wildlife around campus. They first made predictions about what kids on things they thought would be easier or harder to find. They then set out to find things like mushrooms, moldy leaves, and insects and then compared their predictions to their experience.

The next day, students put their observation skills to work at Black Hill Regional Park. They looked at plants and tress up close with magnifying glasses. On a walk in the woods, they looked under logs for signs of life, being careful to not be disruptive to the natural setting. The group walked through a meadow hoping to observe birds by the lake. While there were no birds at that time, they did get to see a frog in the Nature Center.

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5th & 6th Grade Explore What it Means to be Part of a Watershed


Naturalists from Black Hill came to Barnesville to talk with 5th and 6th graders about what a watershed is, explaining that our campus is a small part of the very large Chesapeake Bay watershed. Students went outside and walked our property, identifying how and where water travels when it rains. They checked their hypotheses with a satellite view of the campus.

We also did an activity where students learned about different water pollutants and how they affect Ph. While reading a narrative about the last 500 years, students added pollutant simulators to water taken from our tap and measured the Ph before and after.

The next day, we went to Black Hill where we talked about how the lake was formed. We learned that it serves as an emergency water reserve for the water treatment center. We again looked at a satellite map and could see differences in water quality in areas where the park meets the shoreline versus where there is a lot of development around the shoreline.

Using the polluted water from the previous day, students broke into groups and used a variety of filtering systems to try and clean the water.

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Wetlands Exploration - 3rd & 4th Grade Field Study


Barnesville's 3rd and 4th graders spent a morning exploring the wetland and storm water facilities at Germantown Town Center Urban Park.

The students examined the different plants, birds, and wildlife that make up a wetland. The group ended their field study back at Black Hill Regional Park, taking the time to make observational drawings of the natural treasures found while exploring the wetlands earlier.


Check out the slideshow...




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Kindergarten Learns About Water & Pollinators


Each year, Barnesville chooses a nature theme that is integrated into student studies across all grade levels, providing opportunities for cross-curricular learning, buddy activities, and environmental awareness. This year’s school-wide theme is "water" -- where to find it, why all living things need it, the impact of water pollution and water-related natural disasters. The water theme will also be incorporated into our educational partnership with Black Hill Regional Park.

Kindergarten was the first class to work with Black Hill this school year. Naturalists took the students for a nature walk around Barnesville's campus to find sources of water for animals. In damp places, students found huge mushrooms. In addition to finding places where water collects naturally, students learned about the barrels we use to collect rainwater near our garden and greenhouse. Naturalists also pointed out areas where water has eroded the land.

While visiting Black Hill the next day, Barnesville students learned about the many animals that live in and around the lake. They also learned about pollinators like dragonflies and butterflies. Students also got to tag Monarch Butterflies and then let them loose in the park garden. You can see additional photos on Facebook.

As the kindergarten class starts to care for the bird feeders around Barnesville’s campus, they will be all the more aware of the wildlife that shares our space and their need for water too!

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8th Grade Kayaking on Little Seneca Lake


To wrap up the year, 8th grade paddled Little Seneca Lake with the wonderful staff at Black Hill Nature Programs, Montgomery Parks. They learned the proper technics to paddle through all types of water. Check out photos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBarnesvilleSchool/phot...

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7th Grade Student Earns Honorable Mention at Youth Wildfowl Carving Competition


Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences seventh grader Jordan T. earned an Honorable Mention for her goldfinch silhouette bird carving in the Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival.

Working under the guidance of wildfowl woodcarving specialist, Gary Stenger, Barnesville fourth and seventh grade students created bird silhouettes that were submitted for the Youth Competition held in Ocean City April 28-30.

Barnesville seventh graders learned carving techniques from Mr. Stenger and his wife Pam. Using dremel sanders and other tools, students created feather grooving texture and added additional details with paint on wooden goldfinch silhouettes. Fourth graders painted morning doves. Reclaimed wood from a Barnesville family’s farm was used to mount the silhouettes on wooden bases.

This is the second year that Mr. Stenger worked with Barnesville students, building on the School's partnership with Black Hill Regional Park.

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Release the Trout!


Barnesville's 7th graders released 37 Golden Rainbow Trout fingerlings into Little Seneca Creek. The students raised the fish from eggs and have cared for them in the classroom since December 2016. They monitored the water chemistry of the tank and changed the water as needed as they observed the growth of the trout. The trout unit is a part of the life science curriculum.

On the day of the release, Middle School Science Teacher Mrs. Farah and the seventh graders met Black Hill Naturalist Katrina Fauss at Little Seneca Creek Park. The students individually counted and released the fingerlings. Then, they hiked back upstream and Ms. Katrina led them in a benthic macroinvertebrate sampling lab.

A benthic macroinvertebrate is a spineless organism that lives at the bottom of a stream or creek. They are an indicator species that scientists can use to determine the health of a stream ecosystem. The students were first briefed on the types of invertebrates they could expect to find and provided with dichotomous keys to aid in identification. Next, they waded into the creek to disturb the creek bottom whiling using nets to collect the organisms that became dislodged. Sampling took about an hour, but when the class was finished, they had larva from crane flies, mayflies, and dragonflies, 2 crayfish, 2 types of fish, and numerous snails. They even found some salamander eggs.

“The amount and diversity of the invertebrates they found demonstrated a very healthy stream environment for our trout,” said Mrs. Farah.

Students also tested the water for ammonia, nitrates, and pH level. They compared the stream data with the data the were previously monitoring in the tank. Some of the students were impressed that, while we were constantly adjusting chemicals to maintain the water quality of the tank, the stream data was perfectly balanced, without outside help.

Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is a hands-on environmental program in which students raise trout from eggs to fingerling, manage chilled tank water quality, engage in stream habitat study, learn to appreciate water resources, develop a conservation ethic, and are taught to understand ecosystem connectivity.

More photos can be viewed on a Facebook Slideshow.


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Earth Day 2017: Plants & Gardens Expo Led by 7th Grade


Skills honed in the School’s Makerspace were put to use at a Bark Boat building station at the Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences Plants & Gardening Earth Day 2017 celebration.

Students built and test-floated mini sailboats using bark as boat hulls. Older students paired with their younger Buddies drilled holes in chunks of bark to install masts and sails. Mr. Weintraub built a temporary pond on the blacktop where the boats were tested for buoyancy and speed. Most boats sank or tipped on the first sail attempt, so students made adjustments -- selecting different sized or shaped bark, moving the mast, and changing the sail until they got their boats to float. Video is posted on Facebook.

In 2016, Barnesville faculty and naturalists from Black Hill Regional Park teamed up to create a Flying WILD Festival, an entire day of fun outdoor and environmental education activities related to birds, their habitats, and their migration. The day was the culmination of six months of bird-related nature lessons. This year, Barnesville seventh graders planned a similar Earth Day festival centered on plants and gardening. After spending time planning with Black Hill Naturalists, the students selected the theme and planned related educational games, crafts, and activities.

The day started with students from each grade reading facts about Earth Day, after which everyone viewed a short film. The seventh graders then led pre-k through eighth grade students paired in their Buddy Groups through a rotation of games, crafts, and activities at six different outdoor stations. Stations included: building Bark Boats, creating Fairy Gardens with herb seedlings, making recycled newspaper pots for pollinator plantings, a Weeds vs. Flower game, Water the Flowers relay races, and a nature scavenger hunt in Explorer Woods. Kids also enjoyed casual time with their Buddies playing sidewalk games and having fun with chalk and bubbles. They also used dandelion blooms to create a giant peace side on the hillside facing Barnesville Road.


Snapshots from the day are can be viewed in a Facebook Photo Album.

Some of the day’s events were streamed live on Facebook and can be seen using the following links:

  1. Earth Day Live Stream 1: Bark Boat, Fairy Gardens, Recycled Pots
  2. Earth Day Live Stream 2: Water the Plant Relay Race and Explorer Woods
  3. Earth Day Live Stream 3: Bark Boats That Float!
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7th Grade Planning "Plants & Gardening" Earth Day Celebration

In 2016 Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences faculty and naturalists from Black Hill Regional Park teamed up to create a Flying WILD Festival, an entire day of fun outdoor and environmental education activities related to birds, their habitats, and their migration. The day was the culmination of six months of bird-related nature lessons.

This year, Barnesville seventh graders are taking on a leadership role by planning, prepping materials, and leading small group activity stations. They have been spending time with Black Hill Naturalists planning for the second annual schoolwide Earth Day celebration which will take place on Friday, April 21.

While visiting Black Hill Regional Park, Barnesville seventh grade students brainstormed on a theme. They decided on “Plants and Gardening.” They researched activity ideas and voted as a class to decide which activities best fit the theme and were appropriate for all grade levels. They also had an opportunity to tour some plant activity stations at Black Hill Nature Center to get more ideas.

Stay tuned for more about this year’s Earth Day celebration!

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8th Grade Nature Journaling Project Combines Art, Writing, and Study of Matter


Black Hill Naturalist Katrina Fauss introduced the topic of nature journaling to our 8th graders. She showed them a variety of different types of journals and explained the methodology of journaling.

To prepare for a journaling project at the Park, Ms. Katrina came to Barnesville to talk about techniques and lead students in a practice journaling exercise on our campus. She talked about “how to be still” while out in nature so students can concentrate on individual senses, giving each intentional focus -- first visual, then sound.

Students completed a “pick your place” template once they found their observation spot outside. They were given about ten minutes to complete a chart that recorded: time and place, weather, sounds, colors, animals, patterns, and discoveries. Once this exercise was complete, students then used a nature journal reminders checklist to help them remember more details. They were asked to sketch what they saw and draw the whole object and then a small part of it. They were prompted to think about making comparisons with respect to size, texture and smell. Students also added new details to assist them in going beyond what they already knew.

While at Barnesville, Ms. Katrina also showed the 8th graders how to tye dye paper using shaving cream. The colorful papers were used to make covers for their new journals, which students took to Black Hill Regional Park with them the next day.

In science class, 8th graders have been studying matter, so at the Park students were asked to pair what they’ve learned with their new observation and journaling skills. While observing nature at the park, they considered the continual lifespan of matter in the water cycle, carbon cycle, and the use of finite natural resources. The purpose of the exercise was to help students understand that while matter can't actually be destroyed, human interaction with the environment can change the way the particles are arranged, where they exist on the planet and in the atmosphere (i.e. by burning fossil fuels) and disrupt the balance of the cycle.

One student journaled about his observation of sitting on the edge of the lake at Black Hill Regional Park. He wrote a diamante poem about how the water impacted him. Another exercise had students spend some time in an area of the forest where there had been fire damage. Students explored the area, looking for evidence of the fire and examining areas of regrowth. Then, they were given the option of writing a story, poem or newspaper article about the impact of the fire.



Posted by Jan Hyland on Friday January 27 at 10:17AM
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